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Pasta al Pomodoro Recipe

Course First Course
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword pasta, tomato sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author EXAU Olive Oil


  • 10 3" tomatoes
  • 1 smashed or cut in half garlic clove
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 350 grams spaghetti or penne
  • salt
  • 1 Calabrian peperoncino (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano (optional)


  1. Fill a medium large pot with water, add salt. Should taste like the sea. Bring to a boil.

  2. Cut tomatoes into 1" chunks.

  3. Smash garlic gloves with side of knife or chop each clove into 2-3 large pieces (do not chop fine it will burn). Chop Calabrian peperoncino into 2-3 pieces.

    Heat a medium-large frying pan on medium heat and add olive oil, garlic, and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic has 'scented' the oil and the garlic develops a warm buttery yellow color.

    Note: Tilt the pan down to gently 'boil' the garlic and oil over direct heat. Be careful not to burn.

  4. Add the tomatoes to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon. Cover the pan with a lid. Cook 12-15 minutes on medium heat, stirring every 3-4 minutes.

  5. While tomatoes are cooking, finely grate (optional) parmigiano reggiano.

  6. Add basil and 1 tsp salt (plus some to taste) to tomatoes at the very end of the cooking process. The sauce should have a smooth yet thick consistency. If your sauce is a little thin you can continue to cook for a few more minutes or simply turn off the heat and wait several minutes. If sauce is too thick adjust later with pasta water.

  7. Add pasta to water, stirring every few minutes. Cook pasta until 3 minutes before 'al dente' (see package for cooking time). Reserve 2 cups pasta water then drain the pasta and turn the sauce to medium heat.

  8. Add a splash of pasta water to sauce. Stir. Then add the pasta to the sauce. Turn heat up to high and stir. Continue stirring clockwise or counterclockwise (choose one) for 3 minutes. Add more pasta water as sauce thickens and dries out.

    Note: Add pasta water in half ladles and make sure the sauce and pasta are continuously boiling.

  9. Remove from heat. Add optional parmigiano reggiano.

  10. Plate pasta immediately. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.